Californians get better view of who is paying for ballot measures
December 6, 2017
• Fair Political Practices Commission offers look behind the curtains
• “A small number of people account for the vast majority of money influencing California’s ballot measures”
Who the secret money bags are behind California ballot issues is being revealed with a new program offered by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
In 2016, 86 percent of the almost $450 million contributed to state ballot measures came from just 164 contributors. The remaining contributions came from more than 40,000 contributors. The results were similar for contributions for the 2014 state ballot measures.
Corporations made up nearly 40 percent of the money contributed in 2016, with non-profits second at almost 18 percent, followed by individual contributors, unions, and associations.
The FPPC analysis shows out-of-state contributions to California ballot measures rose from less than 7 percent in 2014 to almost 30 percent of all funds contributed in the 2016 election.
“The proof is in the numbers, which continue to show a small number of people account for the vast majority of money influencing California’s ballot measures, and now a growing percent of that influence is coming from out of state,” says FPPC Chairman Jodi Remke. “We hope that data visualization will increase the public’s understanding of these significant influences and trends before the onslaught of political spending in the 2018 elections.”
The new data visualization on Top 10 contributors is located at the bottom of the home page of the Commission’s website. The data visualization breaking it down by entity and state can be found on the Transparency Portal of the FPPC website.
In 2014, the Legislature passed and the governor signed Senate Bill 27 which strengthened the state’s law against so-called ‘dark money.” SB 27 requires the Commission to post on the Commission’s website the top ten contributors to state committees when the committee has spent over $1 million to support or oppose a state candidate or state ballot measure.